Upskilling for the Future of Work

We live in a constantly evolving world, and the pace of change is accelerating. Even before the pandemic, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) had already been transforming our lives into science fiction with disruptive technologies and automation. Klaus Schwab, a thought leader and World Economic Forum (WEF) Founder, characterized 4IR as the fusion of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc. that is blurring the line between the physical, digital and biological spheres. As a result, employees wonder about their job security and organizations worry the workforce won’t grow at the speed of the business, which creates a sense of urgency for upskilling and reskilling on a large scale.  

According to McKinsey Insights, up to 30 to 40 percent of workers in developed countries may need to move into new roles or upskill significantly by 2030. In another report, WEF and PwC suggests that half of the global workforce will need reskilling by 2025.  

It is no longer a feeling that we need to upskill our workforce, but a call to action. In a broader sense, while upskilling relates to building on current skills to perform better in a present or future role, reskilling means developing different skills to perform in a new role. So how does it benefit employees and organizations alike?


The Benefits of Upskilling

From an employee’s view, upskilling with purpose can:  

  • Future proof your career
    As technology advances, the lifespan of skills gets shorter. To navigate and prosper in the new environment, employees need to keep their capabilities up-to-date and in-demand. The advanced competency you acquire can broaden your career path and open doors to new opportunities.  
  • Increase your value proposition
    Upskilling empowers you with self-determination and confidence. It also brings you broadened and new perspectives. When you invest in yourself, envision your future role, and how your skills can be used in the time ahead, you increase your value and personal brand.  
  • Bring a sense of accomplishment
    Have you ever found yourself feeling fulfilled and motivated to do more and better after putting that last puzzle piece in place or solving a Wordle of the day? Human beings enjoy challenges that we can learn to master; and when we do, our brain releases the happiness hormones that make us feel good. In a similar fashion, taking part in upskilling activities helps you identify your own skill gaps and allows you to prioritize what you want to learn more of. Tapping into the uncharted skills world adventurously gives you a sense of achievement. 


Skill Wordle


From an organization’s view, purposeful upskilling can: 

  • Build strong internal capabilities and talent pipeline
    McKinsey shared in an article that the Great Attrition — employees resigning in record numbers —  is both an alert and opportunity to develop your future workforce. If you are fighting the talent war at a high cost or finding skills scarcity impossible to overcome, it’s time to “hire” internally. Your human capital is more adaptable and capable than you think. Developing internally is a more cost-efficient way to nurture your current talents, engage and retain them. Being known as an organization that develops internal talent also gives you a strong competitive advantage to attract new talent and build out your pipeline.
  • Transform to skills-based strategies
    A recent Deloitte article recommends organizations to shift from fixed jobs to dynamic skills to stay agile and competitive in the new world. As we work towards a more human-centric future, employees’ skills and interests are at the heart of the business. Skills-based strategies add new dimensions to talent conversations.
  • Provide for the greater good
    Given the connected world we are in today, the skills gap is a global issue. Once upskilled, individuals and organizations can contribute to the communities they serve. It is humane and sustainable to advance the workforce for greater social and economic impact.  


Upskilling Efforts Create a Win-Win Situation 

Imagine a world where your workforce is ready to overcome changes and stay on top of business growth. Let that image drive your vision of transformation, not hinder it. Companies that can turn purpose into actions and encourage employees to live their values at work can create a win-win situation. When organizational and employee standards align, staff engagement and sense of purpose at work strengthens. Companies that invest in a shared mindset and core values will flourish and retain their best people.


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